Part Three: Now we are
getting somewhere

Words and photos by Jok Nicholson

The work is starting get a lot more fun now. Since I spent my "early years" doing bodywork for a living, I thought I would start with the body on the Vega. It was pretty solid but needed some finishing touches. Anyone can do basic body work which includes filling dents, cleaning up some rusty spots and even bonding on a hood scoop or, in my case on the Vega, bonding on the enlarged wheel opening panels.

If you haven't done any body work before you will probably spend about $100 for some basic tools. It will be worth your money to get a book on basic body repair and refinishing. HP Books has a good one available through Summit or Jegs.

You will need the following to get going:

  1. Air or electric grinder that will accept flexible grinding discs to grind paint off.
  2. Selection of 3M "Roloc" grinder discs to grind paint off where filler goes.
  3. Body filler and hardener, also a "cheese grater" to speed up finishing the body filler work. If you have a friend in the body repair business they will be a big help.
  4. Air or electric orbital sander to do finish sanding with. Air tools are lighter and easier to use but they take a pretty good compressor, about 5 cfm at 50 lbs should be the minimum you try to get by with. I have a 4.0 horsepower 110 V. 2 cylinder that works great.

I do want to update you on the BUDGET part of the "Back-2-Basics" project. I have had quite a few e-mails that either thought I could stay under budget or that I would go over budget by several thousand dollars. I think we will squeeze in under the budget. Here is where we stand so far.

Income: Items off the car I sold at swap meet and to local racers: $935.00


  • Aluminum seat: $79.00
  • Window net: $22.00
  • Solvent and cleaners to clean rear end housing: $23.50
  • Send MSD in to have it checked out: $18.00
  • Aluminum sheet for dash and interior repair: $51.00
  • Rivets for aluminum work: $12.00
  • BG fuel filter, stainless element: $15.00 (bought at swap meet, new cost $78.00)
  • Moroso throttle limiter: $10.00 (swap meet, used but okay, new price about $40.00
  • Master disconnect switch: $10.00 (swap meet, new piece worth about $30.00)
  • Black Rustoleum paint for rollcage and rear end parts, $14.00
  • Front disc brake pads, turn rotors, hardware kit, stock Vega brakes: $42.00
  • New Master cylinder: $46.80
  • New 5.13:1 Dana-60 Richmond Pro-Gears, (swap meet $150.00) new $305.00
  • Strange Engineering Dana installation kit and axle bearings: $173.00
  • Strange Engineering Pinion yoke and trans yoke for 1350 U-joints. $96.00
  • Two pieces of roll bar tubing for side bar and rocker bar: $19.00
  • Four 6" square pieces of .125 steel plate for reinforcement panels: $6.00

So far we have spent $777.30. This means we have a little more than $150.00 to spend before we get into the budget. With the budget target set for $12,500.00 I feel we will get the project done on time and within budget.

This shot shows the new wield on the driver's side roll cage. This should provide additional safety and help the chassis do its job.

I set up the Dana 60 the other day and it took me a while. I spent about five hours to get everything right. The biggest hassle was polishing the spool where the bearings slide on so it was a "slip-fit." That made changing the shims that control backlash a lot easier since they are usually press-on bearings. I do not have a press, so that would have been a waste of time traveling back and forth to the local shop that has a press. The Strange Engineering installation kit came with all the correct bearings and a large assortment of shims as well as new ring gear bolts and new bolts for the rear cover.



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